What constitutes workplace discrimination?

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What constitutes workplace discrimination?

My position was eliminated from my team/department. Within the last 3 months my employer has hired new employees with same skills that I have for less pay. I have been with my employer for 4 years and 3 months and I had 9 months left to be vested in our pension plan. I’m the only Muslim employee in department. I think that I have been discriminated against because of my salary and religion.

Asked on September 3, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You may or may not have a case here.  First of all, in most states employment relationships are what is known as "at will", and IL is no exception.  What this means is that basically an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason whatsoever, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as they see fit.  You in turn can work for an employer or not, your choice. So as to any salary discrimination, on the face of it you have no legal recourse. However, if there is a stated company policy contrary to the way in which your situation was handled, or there is a union/employment agreement that does not allow for such  action, you may indeed have a claim. 

As for religious discrimination, while such discrimination is indeed unlawful, based on your facts it's not clear whether or not it exists in this situation. Were derogatory remarks made to you or made about you due to your Muslim faith? Also, were others in your department let go as well; that is were you the only one singled out for termination? Without knowing the details of exactly what occurred it's hard to say whether or not religious discrimination played a role in your release.

You can to contact your state's department of labor and/or an employment law attorney.  They can best advise you as to whether any law has been broken, and if so, just what your rights and legal remedies are.


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